open letter to journals about RSS

November 25, 2009 at 9:14 am | | literature, open thread, science community, wild web

Dear all journal publishers,

If the RSS feed to your journal is missing a TOC image or a full list of the authors, you need to correct that.


Reading just titles can be hard, especially when you skim through many journals. TOC images make that much more enjoyable. It’s the way to go, and if your journal does not include TOC images, you’re behind the times.

Also, it’s very simple to include all authors in the RSS feed. First authors only is not helpful: it’s very helpful to be able to check who the corresponding author is on a paper you might be interested in. (I’m talking to you ACS.)

Mitch’s ChemFeeds is great, but I doubt it can add TOC artwork to journals that don’t request it from their authors!

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!


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  1. Hear hear!

    I can’t stand that the ACS RSS feeds only show the first author–I’m sure I miss out on interesting papers that I would have read based on the author, but not based on the graphic. And I barely even look at the titles.

    Comment by z — November 25, 2009 #

  2. this. ever so this.

    Comment by excimer — November 26, 2009 #

  3. I agree with you on the incomplete author list, and I like the ACS TOC figures, but I don’t favor their inclusion in place of an abstract. I (electronically) scan the text for keywords to find papers of interest, and the title alone can’t say everything. Sometimes there are so many papers to look through that even scanning through the TOC images is too slow … :)

    Some publishers include neither an image nor an abstract, which is … puzzling. I did talk one of them into including the abstract, so perhaps ACS would consider our complaints? It’s all in the interest of making their papers more discoverable, and therefore increasing impact factor, right?

    Comment by mike — December 14, 2009 #

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